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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: When I saw the letter in your column from the woman who wrote to say that after 13 years of abuse, she had finally decided she was going to leave her husband, I had to write. The woman's decision prompted her to pen a poem she titled "Love Isn't ..." After reading it, I was compelled to write my own "poem." I call it, "Stupid Is ..."


-- Staying married to a man who is physically and verbally abusive for 13 YEARS! For heaven's sake, GET A CLUE!

-- Having a child with an abusive mate. It's hard to believe there were no incidents of this nature prior to having a baby.

-- Raising a child in this hostile environment. Statistics show that most abusers were either abused themselves or witnessed abuse during their own childhood. So, congratulations! You are now raising tomorrow's crop of tormentors.

-- Any woman who doesn't get the best possible education she can before she gets married or has children. A good education is your ticket to freedom! I've rarely heard a well-educated woman say, "I had to stay with this abusive man because I don't have anywhere to go."

-- Any woman who would PLAN to have a baby with someone who hasn't proven himself to be as committed to raising the child as she is. Choosing to bring a child into the world simply because you "want a baby" is the height of selfishness. Forget what you want. Think of what is best for the child.

-- Anyone who would have a baby they cannot afford to care for. To people who complain that it's impossible to raise a "family" on a minimum wage, I say, "If you are making only minimum wage, why are you starting a family?" Work your way up the ladder. Go back to school nights and weekends. Many of us have done just that, and THAT is how we have gotten ahead. Besides, job experience gives you something to fall back on if "Mr. Wonderful" turns out be less than you'd hoped for. You'll know you are capable of taking care of yourself.

Abby, I'm sure I'll be criticized for my opinion, but I am ... SICK AND TIRED OF VOLUNTARY VICTIMS IN OREGON

DEAR SICK AND TIRED: You may be criticized for stating your opinion, and I may be criticized for printing it. You didn't sugar-coat the message, but perhaps it needs to be said. However, it may interest you that not everyone saw "Goodbye Wife's" poem in the same light as you. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: You recently printed a letter from "The Goodbye Wife in Calif." in which she outlined what "Love Isn't."

Abby, that letter hit home. I am married and the father of four. My wife and children have put up with that kind of behavior far too long.

Your advice was that we all have choices. Well, this husband and father just made one, before I, too, receive a letter like that.

I carry a copy of the column in my wallet, next to the picture of my family. At least once each day, I make it a point to look at both. Abby, I'd much rather have my family than get a goodbye letter.

Thanks to you and "Goodbye Wife" for opening my eyes. -- CHANGING IN CINCINNATI

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